New Integrated From Gold Note…

Gold Note is introducing IS-1000, an innovative all-in-one source designed to deliver high quality audio combining analogue and digital technology, available at a MSRP of 4200,00€ (5000,00$) worldwide through Gold Note retailers in October 2017.

IS-1000 is an advanced fully integrated amplifier that redefines the way music playback is experienced, seamlessly merging a Preamplifier, a Power Amplifier, a Phono Stage, a DAC and a Streamer in a unique and complete source.

Gold Note IS-1000 is a Roon Ready device, fully compatible with multi-room systems and with a quick plug & play installation: simply connect IS-1000 to the network (Wi-Fi or Ethernet) and to the speakers, then explore the endless possibilities of music, streaming from Tidal & MQA via Tidal, Qobuz, Spotify & Spotify Connect and Deezer with Roon or the Gold Note dedicated App [available for iOS and Android] or browsing your collection of digital music stored on NAS, HDD and USB sticks – including DSD64 format.

The new Class A/B amplifier with 125W @ 8Ω per channel (and 250W @ 4Ω) per channel developed exclusively for IS-1000 guarantees vivid dynamics, the pure sound and finest detail while also offering a wide range of digital and analogue inputs (including A/V and Phono MM/MC) to assure total control and the freedom to upgrade, expand or connect more devices to the IS-1000.

With the knowledge and the experience developed in over 20 years of research across the whole spectrum of audio reproduction and recording, Gold Note is finally able to offer an all-in-one solution powered by technology and audio grade components to achieve audiophile sound.

“Imagine a complete High-End stereo system enclosed in a beautiful aluminum chassis carved in bold Italian style: this is the best way to describe IS-1000.” explained Maurizio Aterini, founder of Gold Note.

Maurizio also stated: “The refined innovations made for IS-1000 come directly from the experience made with our flagship models, like the preamplifier P-1000 and the power amplifier PA-1175, which inspired us to create a new all-in-one source that would integrate the analogue components of a high quality amplifier and phono stage with the digital technologies of a streamer and a DAC in order to deliver outstanding performances while minimizing the effort and the gear needed: we have designed IS-1000 to achieve the best audio quality and to offer a huge number of features in. And if you are in love with vinyl (like me) connect your turntable directly to IS-1000 and spin the record, you’ll find that we have put great care into the phono stage.”
IS-1000 features 6 digital inputs (PCM up to 24/192):

– 3 optical (TOS)

– 1 Coaxial (COAX)

– 1 USB type A (DSD 64 native and via DoP)

– 1 LAN & Wi-Fi (DSD 64 native and via DoP)

3 analogue inputs:

– 1 XLR balanced

– 2 RCA (Line or A/V processor or Phono MM/MC)

Featuring also 1 RCA variable and 1 RCA fixed outputs to use IS-1000 as a Streamer/DAC or as a Preamp or with active speakers.



– Full connectivity: Roon Ready, Tidal & MQA via Tidal, Qobuz, Spotify & Spotify Connect, Deezer, Airplay and V-Tuner for internet radio

– Controlled via iOS and Android App

– Gold Note Class A/B Integrated amplifier with 125W @ 8Ω per channel (and 250W @ 4Ω), 100% designed and manufactured in Italy

– 3 analogue inputs: 1 balanced XLR, 2 RCA both convertible (1 Line or Phono MM/MC & 1 Line or AV-In)

– 6 digital inputs (PCM up to 24/192): 3 Optical-TOS, 1 Coax, 1 USB A (DSD 64 native and via DoP), 1 LAN & Wi-Fi (DSD 64 native and via DoP)

– 2 Analogue RCA outputs: 1 Fixed, 1 Variable to use IS-1000 as a source, as a preamp or with active speakers

– DSD 64 native files and via DoP

– Display & SKF for easy access and control

– Improved chassis in solid brushed aluminium designed by Arch. Stefano Bonifazi

About Gold Note: Gold Note ( has become one of the leading Italian manufacturers in the Hi-End audio, now with more than 20 years of experience in engineering and designing a complete line of electronics, analog equipment and loudspeakers. Founded in Firenze, Italy, where every product is still hand-built from scratch with high quality materials, its creations are a statement of Italian craftsmanship and innovation appreciated in more than 25 countries worldwide.

Address: Via della Gora, 6 Montespertoli (Firenze) Italy 50025
Phone/Fax number: +39 0571 675005 / +39 0571 675013

E-mail: [email protected]

With Great Respect…

Cleaning the closets a bit today, I ran across the first issue of The Absolute Sound.

From Sping of 1973. Damn, I’m getting old. I remember reading it at my neighbor, longtime friend, and sometime TONEAudio contributor Todd Sageser’s house. I used to look at the mighty Phase Linear 700 amplifier on the shelf, with its gigantic, glowing, power output meters in the mall at Schaak Electronics and wonder what it would be like to have that much power.

44 years later, HP is no longer with us, and neither is Schaak Electronics. But I was fortunate enough to work for both of them, and I learned something from each. I even owned a couple of Phase Linear amplifiers over the years. And no, they never burst into flames.

Harry Pearson influenced me, with his obsessive quest for great sound, and his methodology influenced my approach at TONE, especially that of having a reference system where one and only one component was swapped at a time.

If you had the good fortune to encounter Mr. Pearson, you know he was a wild dog, in the best sense of the term. When I told him my dog’s name was Harry, he immediately thought I had named my Kerry Blue terrier after him. I confessed that my wife had named him after her screen heartthrob, Harrison Ford, Pearson retorted, “Well she hasn’t met me.”

And so it goes. It’s pretty amazing to see The Absolute Sound still thriving in 2017 and an entire industry and vocabulary sprout up from this 36 page leaflet, devoid of ads and photography. We’ve come a long way baby.

New and Improved Speakers from Eggleston!

Egglestonworks, celebrated producer of State-of-the-Art Loudspeaker Systems, is proud to introduce “Artisan Series,” a collection of three new, attractively-priced models designed to make Eggleston performance accessible to the next generation of music lovers. Among the handful of manufacturers which occupy the pinnacle of speaker quality, only Egglestonworks offers a range of speakers at such reasonable prices.

Although Artisan Series loudspeakers are significantly less expensive than Eggleston’s other loudspeakers, they embody all of our most important design and manufacturing elements. Meticulously handcrafted in our Memphis factory, Artisan cabinets are lavishly painted with multiple coats of lacquer in our new, state-of-the-art spray booth for unsurpassed visual beauty. They receive the same CNC-machined aluminum baffle for the last word in both cabinet damping and aesthetic perfection. And of course, they share the same obsessive attention to parts quality, hand assembly and sonic excellence, as well as Egglestonworks’ Custom Color Program, which enables customers to choose virtually any color for their speakers.

Unique among Egglestonworks products, Artisan are our first loudspeakers to utilize drivers specifically designed for these models. Working with one of the world’s foremost driver manufacturers, Egglestonworks was able to combine the engineering expertise of both companies to produce woofers and tweeters that precisely fit our design criteria.  The result is a synergy between drivers, cabinet and crossover not achievable with “Off the shelf” parts.

-Now in its third iteration, the Emma SE ($3,995/pr, MSRP) offers a combination of attributes never before available at this price. This three-driver, 2 ½-way tower combines awesome dynamic- and frequency range with ease of drive and, thanks to its front-ported design,

ease of placement.

Nico SE ($2,995/pr MSRP), Emma’s little brother, is equally suited to the most demanding home and studio applications. An “Apartment Dweller’s Dream,” this bookshelf monitor offers extreme versatility of placement in domestic applications. At the same time, Nico SE reflects Egglestonworks’ two decades of producing the world’s finest studio monitors and is therefore ideal for professional use.

-Our new Artisan Center ($1,995 MSRP) extends the Artisan Series to the finest cinema systems. Egglestonworks was among the first high-end companies to develop Studio Monitors for mastering surround soundtracks. Bob Ludwig, legendary engineer and owner of Gateway Mastering has, for many years, used five Eggleston Andras to master multichannel recordings. With the introduction of Artisan Center, a complete 5-channel Eggleston system can now be had for less than $9,000 MSRP!

Egglestonworks’ Artisan Series is now shipping. Please contact us for more information or to arrange an audition.

The Brinkmann Audio RoNt II Power Supply

After living with the Brinkmann Bardo turntable for about six months, the much awaited RoNt II vacuum tube power supply arrived, and as anticipated, it took the Bardo to a higher level of performance.

In the case of the Bardo, adding the RoNt II to the table adds just over $4,000 to the MSRP, making the total package about $14,000. Ironically, this is what it used to cost without the upgraded power supply before Brinkmann streamlined their US operations. This is a major win for analog enthusiasts.

Now, with a year of using the Bardo under my belt, the relationship keeps getting better. This table never ceases to amaze me on all levels. As a visual person, I love the clean, uncluttered look of the table – it is the essence of visual simplicity. Some of you might not think or care about it, but just like cars, some turntables look dated after they’ve been on the rack for a while, but the Bardo feels more like it should be in a museum or a mid-century modern furniture store between an Eames lounge and a Barcelona chair.

The RoNtII delivers an equal level of aesthetic ethos, with sleek good looks, easy tube access and a small piece of granite, precisely fitting the RoNt’s footprint. It looks too good not to display prominently on your rack, however, place it so you can easily access the rear panel, that’s where the power switch is.

Good looks are useless without the performance to back it up, and the Bardo delivers the goods in this department as well. It has been remarkably easy to use and set up, with the Koetsu Onyx Platinum cartridge I used for the bulk of the review still in place. The Bardo is a high performance daily driver that I’m always happy to use.

Adding the RoNt II

For a bit of history, click here to read my full review on the Bardo. It offers a great combination of dynamics and musicality along with the rock-solid speed accuracy that only a direct drive turntable can provide. This speed stability provides an additional benefit: tremendous low-level detail retrieval. For those that haven’t been following my analog path, it began in the mid-70s with the Technics direct drive SL-1200. Today, my rack is sporting the current SL-1200, the Bardo/RoNt combo and the Grand Prix Audio Monaco 2.0. All direct drive tables.

This doesn’t mean your belt drive table is irrelevant. (I still have a few of those that I love.) However, just as staff member Jerold O’Brien prefers driving an Audi and I prefer a BMW, after coming full circle I’m solidly in the DD camp these days.

Too much of this is never a bad thing and replacing the Bardo’s solid state supply with the RoNtII makes an instant difference. The best thing about this upgrade is that you can hear it immediately – there’s no waiting 400 hours for it to break in, all the while psyching yourself out, wondering if you truly hear it or not.

The minute the tubes warm up in the power supply, and you spin a record (I suggest listening to something you are very familiar with on the old supply, then doing the swap) you’ll grasp what the RoNtII adds to the presentation. I couldn’t resist spinning the recent remaster of the Led Zeppelin ZoSo (or Led Zep 4, or whatever you refer to it as) and playing “Stairway to Heaven.” Call me sentimental, or cheesy, but it just felt right. Adding the RoNtII, gives John Bonham’s legendary drumming more force, more oomph, more attack, while Jimmy Page’s notes hang in the air with a greater sense of purpose than when I listened to it just a minute before, sans upgraded power supply.

While I’m not a geeky measurements guy by any stretch of the imagination, a few more album sides of acoustic music and I could swear that the Bardo’s fantastic pitch accuracy was even better with the new, upgraded supply. Breaking out a test record and Feickert’s iPhone App instantly reveals the minuscule amount of speed variation with the stock supply is even lower with the RoNtII in place.

Those of you that listen to a lot of acoustic music, primarily selections with piano, violin and such will probably notice an even greater improvement in musicality, than someone like me that still listens to Kiss without regret. Admittedly, the Roland Space Echo effect in the drum solo of “100,000 Years” is even spacier with the upgraded supply.

So why tubes?

Herr Brinkmann takes an ingenious approach to everything he builds, and the RoNtII is no exception. With a pair of PL36 Pentodes as voltage regulators and a 5AR4 rectifier, the tubes isolate the AC mains from the turntable motor, essentially acting as a power conditioner in addition to providing the final 24 volts DC to power the turntable.

There is only one caveat that you need be aware of – the rectifier tube. Where the two NOS triodes used in the power supply are deemed bulletproof from a longevity standpoint, the 5AR4 rectifier is a weak link, as current Chinese models are not terribly robust. This is not a knock at  Brinkmann; it’s just what the tubes are today. You can do one of two things; keep a spare or two of the standard issue tubes on the shelf, because you know Murphy’s law, or call Kevin Deal at Upscale Audio and buy the best NOS replacement he suggests. This might set you back $100 or so, but one of those tubes might just outlive you. When the rectifier tube goes, it takes the power supply fuse with it, so ask your dealer for a couple of spares and file them where you’ll remember them.

Is it worth it?

I feel the increased level of resolution, and dynamic range that the RoNtII offers is worth the price asked. I’ve certainly spent more going up a grade or two in phono cartridge and received less improvement. It’s worth mentioning that this power supply also works with the Brinkmann belt drive models, and I’ll stick my neck out and guess that it offers just as much if not more performance gain. I suspect that we’ll be auditioning an Oasis in the future, so we’ll revisit this option at that time. Again, I think it is very thoughtful of Brinkmann to build one component like this that will upgrade multiple models, keeping proliferation to a minimum. Makes it easier for the end user.

The Bardo by itself is one of the best values going in the $10,000 table range, and the upgraded Bardo/RoNtII combo is certainly one of the best performing tables I’ve experienced in the $15,000 range. It’s like going from a 3-series BMW to an M3 or an Audi A4 to an S4; once you experience the higher level of performance, you might not be able to go back. I know I can’t. The RoNtII has proven an essential upgrade to my Bardo, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

New Mac Receiver – Single Chassis Cool

McIntosh is proud to announce the MAC7200 Receiver.

MAC7200 Receiver (available worldwide)

The MAC7200 Receiver builds upon the MA7200 Integrated Amplifier by adding a built-in AM/FM Tuner. McIntosh has been making tuners since the 1950s and they are one of our hallmarks, with the groundbreaking MR78 model from 1972 considered an all-time classic in the audio industry. The built-in AM/FM tuner in the MAC7200 Receiver comes from that same illustrious line of McIntosh tuners and will pick up radio stations with unparalleled clarity and a realism that is free from noise and distortion. Its advanced signal quality monitor can display the multipath and noise levels of the incoming RF signal to help fine tune antenna placement for optimal reception. Dedicated PRESET and TUNING knobs enable easy radio operation. The FM tuner includes Radio Data System (RDS) support, allowing it to display optional information sent by radio stations such as the station’s name and call letters as well as the name of the artist and song being played. It features 20 presets for each radio band as well as a remote AM antenna. The MAC7200 is available worldwide.

Suggested retail price MAC7200 (VAT, shipping and any customs duties related to current standards of individual countries are excluded): $7,000 USD.

The Naim Atom!

Time flies when you’re having fun. Ten years into their existence, Naim introduced the original Nait integrated amplifier, which was about the size of a large hardcover novel, and produced about 13 watts per channel. Today they give us the Atom.

A Quick recap

The original Nait offers a built in phonostage, revered to this day and though it has relatively low power, the power supply offers tremendous reserve current, delivering wide dynamic swing. Many audiophiles still prefer the original Nait as their amplifier of choice for a pair of Quad 57s. The cost was 253 pounds, which translated into about 350 dollars in US currency. (approximately 850 dollars in 2017)

The entire Nait range has always been excellent, but Naim has kept up with the wacky world of streaming and computer audio, and on a parallel track has produced some incredible DACs as well as the stunning CD555 CD player, which was my reference for years. It’s safe to say that Naim knows how to build them well,  within a diminutive form factor without sacrificing quality.

In 2009, Naim introduced the Uniti, a full sized box, combining an integrated amplifier and CD player. Cool as this was, the UnitiQute, brought to market a year later proved the game changer, eschewing the CD transport for streaming capability – a technology then in its infancy. Once again, the Salisbury manufacturer showed its willingness to be fashion forward.

The Qute and its next iteration, the Qute 2 were fantastic, but the engineering staff at Naim never rests, bringing us to the Atom you see here. At $2,995 there is no better choice to anchor your music system if you value engineering, aesthetic and functional excellence, yet want all of this in a compact form factor.

If you’ve had a chance to experience Naim’s flagship Statement series, before the first note of music plays, you notice the sculptured heat sinks that wrap around the power amplifier and the massive, weighted and well-lit volume control. Naim has carried this functionality to the MuSo range and it has to be the best-implemented volume control in all of hifi. It powers up with a spectacular light show and glows a pale blue. It’s so enticing to use; you might never use the remote or the app. This is MOMA permanent collection stuff, and I wouldn’t be surprised if one of these Naim components gets added at some point. The same level of attention to mechanical detail present with the Statement series is lavished on the Atom, giving it a look suggesting a much higher cost.

Getting down to business

Coolness is not worth much without functionality and performance. Queuing up the last Infected Mushroom album and cranking the Focal Sopra no.3 speakers is breathtaking. Thanks to their (91.5db/1 watt) high sensitivity, the 40 watts per channel produced by the Atom is more than enough for all but those needing to blow the windows out of the house. Swapping the Sopras for my vintage Klipsch LaScalas (105db/1 watt) provided the front row concert ticket annoying a few neighbors in the process. Good as the original Nait is/was (and of course, I found a great example, thanks to Mr. O’Brien who keeps everything).

Comparing an original Nait to the Atom side by side is like comparing the original Porsche 911 to a current model; the lineage and house sound are instantly apparent, yet all the additional power and functionality of the Atom is truly welcome. And the new amplifier sounds absolutely lovely driving my current vintage Quad 2812s.

The extra power on tap with the Atom, combined with its robust power supply and discrete design makes for a level of sonic sophistication that so many of the Atom’s competitors lack, succumbing to cutting cost and using chip/op amp based designs. Whether listening to a solo vocal track or a small scale instrumental ensemble, the sheer delicacy that the Atom is capable of comes through loud and clear. When called upon to play louder, more complex music, the Atom is equally adept. Van Halen is just as enjoyable as Infected Mushroom, and in case you aren’t familiar with Naim, they are masters of capturing the pace of whatever music you enjoy.

Setup and connection is easy, thanks to three digital inputs, an analog input, wireless and an HDMI input (Available at an optional cost), so everything from your Walkman to the PS4 can use the Atom as its audio hub. With a lack of rear panel real estate, should you not use Naim’s own speaker cable, bananas are required, there are no binding posts.

Multiple personalities

The Atom substitutes the original Nait’s excellent onboard phonostage, for an incredibly capable DAC section, able to decode files from standard 16/44.1 resolution all the way up to 2x DSD. Everything at my disposal, which runs the gamut, (though most of my library is 16/44.1) is rendered superbly. One of our staffers has the two chassis Naim DAC with PS555 power supply, and again, the lineage is clearly traceable. The overall sound of the Atom is clean, crisp and dynamic, with a lifelike presentation. I have always been a fan of Naim’s digital hardware.

As our first test unit was pre release, but final production, all of the wireless and streaming functionality had not been ready to roll, but we have a new test unit on premise and will reporting back shortly with a full outline of those capabilities.

Those with a turntable will not be left out, as the Atom does have a single analog input. Using it with the new Shinola Runwell turntable, featuring an excellent on board phono preamplifier makes for a perfect match. Stepping up the game to the Audio Research PH9 and Technics SL-1200G with Kiseki Purple Heart underlines just how good this little amplifier performs. It is not out of character, even though this analog front end costs nearly six times what the Atom retails for! Again, the level of pace and tonal contrast is sublime, with the Atom creating a huge sound field in all three dimensions.

In addition to that sexy volume control, Naim has done all of us over 25 years old a major solid by incorporating a display that is large, colorful and contrasty. Even across the room, it is incredibly easy to read, and once you are playing/streaming digital music, the album cover and track information comes to life. This comes in handy when friends are over and wondering what happens to be playing now. Finally, a front panel USB socket allows you and your friends to plug their favorite tunes right in. It doesn’t get more user-friendly than this.

If your emphasis is on functionality and you don’t need a ton of output power, the Atom is a killer choice. You’d spend more than $2,995 just buying power cords and interconnect cables for a preamp, power amp, and headphone amp. Stay tuned for part two, where we concentrate on all of the different options and functions. (manufacturer) (NA distributor)

We Visit McIntosh’s Charlie Randall…Part One

Earlier this summer, I had a chance to chat with Charlie Randall, CEO of the McIntosh Group and head of McIntosh Labs.

He’s a very busy guy, keeping track of everything that all of their brands are involved in, from manufacturing to trade shows and everything else in-between. We’re breaking this up into a few segments so you can tune in as you have time.

Here’s part one!

Issue 85


Old School:

The Adcom GFP-565 Preamp:
Last of the Breed

By Mark Marcantonio


Pro-Ject Speaker Box 5
By Mark Marcantonio

Journeyman Audiophile:

IsoTek’s Aquarius Power Conditioner
By Jeff Dorgay

TONE Style

Mini Weinermobile

Twist + Charging Station

Target Record Crate

The 28″ Blackstone Grille

Phillips Hue Lighting System

Louis Vitton iPhone 7 Case

Nintendo NES Classic


Playlists:  We share our readers choices from around the world

Audiophile Pressings: Elvis Costello, Jeff Beck and Iron Butterfly

Gear Previews

MartinLogan Classic ESL 9 Speakers

Rotel RAP-1580 Surround Sound Receiver

McIntosh MA9000 Integrated Amplifier


COVER STORY: Paradigm’s Persona 9H Loudspeakers
By Jeff Dorgay

Coincident Dynamite Spakers
By Mark Marcantonio

Long Term: The Pass XS Preamplifier
By Jeff Dorgay

Analog Domain M75D Isis Integrated Amplifier
By  Greg Petan

Totem’s Signature One Speakers
By Jeff Dorgay

Benchmark DAC3 HGC
By Mark Marcantonio

Rega’s Vivacious Brio

The dictionary in my Macintosh defines Brio as “vivacity of style or performance,” but in the case of Rega’s Brio integrated amplifier, it has a vivacity of style and performance. With so many choices these days, it’s tough to sort through it all.

Though England’s Rega Research is best known for their turntables, they have been making a full line of high quality amplifiers (and speakers) for decades. The new Brio you see here is a perfect example of an integrated amplifier with an outstanding on-board phonostage, featuring more than enough power to drive any pair of speakers and a headphone input for personal listening.

This beautiful amplifier will only set you back $995, and it’s small, 8.5”W x 3”H x 13.5”D footprint will fit anywhere, making it a perfect choice for the space challenged music lover. We paired our review sample with the awesome Totem Signature One speakers ($2,650/pair) and Rega’s legendary Planar 3 turntable ($1,145 with Elys 2 cartridge).  While you don’t have to spend that much on a pair of speakers to build a great Brio-centric system, know that it is up to the task.

Around back, there are four analog inputs for any other components you might have, like a digital to audio converter (DAC), CD player, tuner, or even a tape deck. Considering the mighty cassette from the 80s is making a mega comeback, you never know. Taking this a step further, the Brio offers a “record output,” just begging you to make a mix tape, which I did, inspired by a recent screening of Guardians of the Galaxy. Firing up the Nakamichi cassette deck with a fresh tape and a pile of 80s favorites, all rendered by the Rega turntable, this proved to be a fun and engaging experience – something a streaming playlist just doesn’t provide.

If you aren’t going all-Rega, the Brio features a standard MM (moving magnet) phono input, so you can use it with any turntable sporting a moving magnet phono cartridge. We auditioned the super stylish, vertical Pro-Ject turntable as well as the newest offering from EAT, all with excellent results. Rega has always been known for making great phono sections and the Brio is highly capable.

Regardless of what medium you choose to use with your Brio, the sound quality is fantastic, and that’s what makes this little amplifier such a great value. Rega build quality is equally great; we’ve been using a number of their products without fail for decades now. Thanks to a broad dealer network worldwide, in the unfortunate event that your Brio ever needs a bit of help, it’s never far away.

The Brio’s 50 watts per channel is enough to drive most speakers to realistic levels, and more than enough to get most apartment dwellers evicted, so you can look forward to distortion, fatigue free music, regardless of how loud or how long you listen. After initial listening with the Totems, we auditioned the Brio with a number of different speakers, some considerably more expensive and came away highly impressed with the level of refinement that this amplifier delivers. TONEAudio Magazine gave their overall Product of the Year award, judging the $995 Brio-R against other components with six-figure pricetags. A side by side comparison with a friend’s last generation Brio-R proves the new model sonically better in every way.

A bare bones remote helps control the Brio from your listening position, but it is small, so keep it in view or you might lose it. The only other caveat with the Brio is that the speaker outputs on the rear panel are very close together, so if you haven’t bought speaker cables yet, make sure they have banana plugs. Anything with spade lugs will be tough if not impossible to use.

Finally, the headphone section of the Brio is dynamic and powerful as well. Running it through a number of playlists with a wide range of headphones again proves its versatility, making it a great headphone listening station, even if you don’t have speakers yet!

If you need high performance on a tight budget, with a slender form factor, Rega’s Brio integrated amplifiers is one of the best you can buy.

The Rega Brio Integrated Amplifier

$995 (factory) (US Distributor)

Vinyl is better, well…kinda

With all the horror surrounding last months article in The Wall Street Journal, on “the vinyl boom being over,” it appears that records are still being made and records are still being sold.

Certainly, tons of turntables, cartridges and phono preamplifiers are being produced as well. So is the sky falling or is it not?

But what a lot of enthusiasts, hipsters, and industry pundits (especially the ones that are old enough to have been around for the first go of the vinyl trip) seem to always forget is that just because something is imprinted on a slab of vinyl doesn’t mean it’s automatically awesome, it’s automatically better than a digital recording and that “digital sucks,” because it doesn’t.

This isn’t the start of a digital vs. analog debate. That’s a tired conversation as far as I’m concerned. VERY tired. But back in the 60s and 70s, until vinyl’s near demise in the mid 80s, a lot of what gets pressed sucks, sonically. As inconvenient as records and tapes were, the CD was really produced as a stopgap to all the piracy that was going on.  With digital recording and data storage such new mediums, I’m going to guess that the suits in charge probably never foresaw the 52x CD writers and 100 pc cake pans of blank CDs at Costco in the mid 90s. Oops.

After a major resurgence, vinyl is probably going to wind down a bit. It’s a matter of logistics, spare parts, and availability of raw materials. Most of all, it’s got a lot to do with what’s being pressed. While most of the audiophile remasters are still being done with great care, a lot of what the remaining major labels are kicking out is definitely sub par. And even the reissues are less than adventuresome in the choices being made. If not for Mobile Fidelity going off the beaten path now and then with a little Judas Priest here and a little KC & The Sunshine Band there, the reissue market would be incredibly boring.

It doesn’t help that used prices keep going up, up, up, either. The good news is now you can find whatever obscure record you couldn’t find in your local used vinyl shop. The bad news is that you are going to pay dearly for it. All of this supply and demand stuff is what it is. I love music and will always listen to it, no matter what the medium and I’ll probably always have at least a few turntables and some records. Will vinyl keep rolling merrily along? I hope so, but I hope that we can see a little bit more attention paid to quality, instead of just banging it out. This isn’t what killed vinyl the first time, it’s what killed the music industry.

Here’s to hoping for the future…